You have probably been exposed to the idea of CPR before, and whether it was on television or in a first aid course, you know that the procedure can save a human’s life. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, which is the full name of CPR, is capable of saving a pet’s life, as well. While the idea of your dog being in such dire straights is daunting, emergencies can arise, and it is better to know what to do ahead of time—including how to do CPR on a dog. Preparation can mean saving precious seconds when you are trying to save a life.
What is CPR?
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It uses chest compressions along with artificial respirations to help revive a human or a pet when either lacks a heartbeat or is not breathing. Just as in humans, the blood oxygen levels of dogs drop when their hearts stop beating or they cease breathing. Unfortunately, the vital organs require oxygen for proper function. This is why acting promptly, correctly, and efficiently is important in emergencies.
How Does CPR Differ Between Humans and Dogs?
There are a few key differences between CPR performed on humans and on dogs. In humans, the chest compressions begin right away, followed by checking the airway and carrying out rescue breathing. With pets, you begin by checking the animal’s airway. Dog breathing rate differs as well. Humans also require more brute strength from the one or ones performing CPR. Dogs are smaller and weaker, incapable of withstanding the punishment a human frame can absorb.
When Is CPR Used?
CPR can save a life if your dog stops breathing or the heart fails. When a heart does not continue beating, its owner is in cardiac arrest. During this state, the heart no longer pumps blood to the body, including to such crucial areas as the brain and lungs. Without treatment, life cannot be sustained. This emergency procedure makes use of compressions to mimic the pumping of the heart. The blood thus continues to flow throughout the body.
First Response Techniques
Ideally, an emergency responder is a medical professional arriving equipped with such gear as an oxygen tank and the mask that goes with it. If you are the first responder, contact a local veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital at once. When professional help is going to take time to arrive, you should know the steps to follow.
Evaluating Your Dog’s Circumstances
Before you take any steps, you need to take stock of the situation. Fear and stress can bring panic for dog owners, but this will not help your dog. If you have prepared yourself ahead of time for this eventuality, you know that you must keep calm to ascertain a few things. A dog that is still alert and paying attention to you does not need CPR, although that dog may require other help.
The A-B-Cs of Evaluating Your Pet
A stands for airway in the A-B-Cs of dog evaluation prior to performing CPR. It refers to checking to ensure that the dog’s airway is clear. If the dog’s throat is blocked, the air supply can be interrupted. CPR efforts require a clear airway to offer the dog artificial breathing.
Is Your Pup Breathing?
The second letter, B, stands for breathing. Is your dog’s chest rising and falling? If chest movement is inconclusive, rest your face near your dog’s nose. Do you feel airflow on your cheek? An unconscious dog may or may not be breathing. A breathing canine does not require dog CPR.
Does Your Pet Have a Pulse?
The final letter, C, stands for cardiac. Does your dog have a heartbeat? Rest your dog on its right side and push back the front elbow to its chest. In the spot located by the meeting of elbow and chest lies the heart. This is the intercostal space. If you see no movement from this location, place your hand upon it, feeling for a heartbeat.
An Obstructed Airway
If an obstructed airway interrupts your dog’s breathing, you might need to perform a type of Heimlich maneuver on your dog. While there are circumstances in which an obstruction can be manually removed, you must be careful not to drive the object deeper into the throat, lodging it more firmly. At other times, the blockage will be out of your reach in the first place. A different approach is then called for. When performing the Heimlich maneuver on a dog, start by placing your hands on the pup’s rib cage, one on each side. Apply pressure. When the object is dislodged and removed, if the dog does not commence breathing, you can proceed to perform dog CPR.
Never Practice CPR Without Need
Never use artificial respiration or CPR on a dog that is healthy. If it is breathing and has a heartbeat, keep your hands away from compressions and do not try breathing for the dog. You can practice finding your dog’s heart and pulse, however. Familiarity with your dog’s pulse will help you out in emergencies.
Dangers of CPR
While television often shows CPR as harmless to the person on whom it was administered, the procedure is physically intense. It can easily cause additional injury. Broken ribs collapsed lungs or pneumothorax, and overall physical stress may result. However, these injuries are treatable by veterinarians. If canine CPR fails, the consequences are not.
Emergency Response Actions
Having a plan helps immensely in emergency situations. Time is of the essence, and you do not have any spare moments in which to panic. Be prepared to take the following actions, doing so in a rehearsed fashion. This way, you can act swiftly to prevent brain damage, which can occur within as little as three to four minutes following respiratory failure.
Call Help Before Dog CPR
Get a friend or passerby to phone an emergency vet. This allows you the freedom to begin applying first aid techniques if your dog has stopped breathing. Help will take some time to arrive, so you will need to take action, beginning care as soon as you possibly can. Continue the process until the arrival of assistance.
How to Do CPR on a Dog
CPR is generally a combination of compressions to move blood and provide artificial breathing. The process is slightly different for puppies and small dogs than it is for medium and larger-sized dogs, so be sure to know how to handle the situation with your own dog.
Position Your Dog
Your dog should be lying on a flat, stable surface. Their left or right side can be down. If your dog is barrel-chested, as with Bulldogs, place the dog on its back. Straighten the head and neck as much as possible for the creation of a direct airway passage for artificial respiration. Pull the dog’s tongue forward; it should rest with the front against the teeth. Shut the dog’s mouth. Then get yourself ready by either kneeling or standing, positioning yourself behind the dog’s back.
Your Mouth Goes Over the Dog’s Airway
Start by gently closing your dog’s mouth. Extend your companion’s neck so that you open up the dog’s airway. Use your mouth to cover your dog’s nose on a larger dog. On a smaller dog, cover both the dog’s mouth and nose with your mouth. Once you know how to position yourself, you can begin producing rescue breaths or artificial respiration.
Provide Artificial Respiration
Make sure your dog’s lips are sealed, placing your hand over your dog’s muzzle. Ensure that the pooch’s mouth is fully and completely closed. Blow gently. Watch your dog’s chest as you exhale. When you see the canine’s chest rise, give the second rescue breath. You should be providing 20 to 30 breaths each minute. Dogs and puppies breathe faster than people do. For larger dogs, use one hand to firmly hold the jaw and mouth closed so you can exhale rescue breaths into the dog’s nostrils. If two people are available, have one perform rescue breaths while the other handles chest compressions.
Start Chest Compressions
Find the heart. Place both palms, one atop the other and with your fingers interlaced, atop the canine’s rib cage at the widest part. This should be near the heart, but not precisely over it. Note that smaller dogs should have you position your hands so that they cup the dog’s rib cage. Your fingers then go on the chest with the thumb opposite. Keep both elbows straight. Maneuver so that your shoulders are directly over your hands. Then, push down on your dog’s rib cage, performing quick, firm compressions. Note that you should only compress a quarter to a third of the dog’s chest width. Repeat compressions at a fast rate. You should aim for 100 to 120 of these firm motions each minute. Note, again, that there is a slight difference for smaller dogs or puppies.
How to do CPR on a Dog Under 30 Pounds in Weight
Smaller dogs are held differently for chest compressions; you also place your mouth over their whole nose and mouth instead of just the nose; and finally, you provide compressions differently . As stated, cup your dog’s rib cage with your fingers and thumb opposite each other. For compressions, use your fingers and thumb to squeeze the dog’s chest. Do this to about a quarter or a third of its width. Repeat this process more quickly than you would with a larger dog. You should try to perform 17 compressions in every ten-second span.
How to do CPR on a Dog Over 30 Pounds in Weight
Not only do larger dogs have a different method of respirations and compressions than do smaller dogs, but they also call for an extra step. This step is an abdominal squeeze. Try placing your non-dominant hand beneath the dog’s abdomen with your dominant hand positioned on top. Push down then, squeezing the belly. This assists the dog’s circulation in returning blood to the heart again. Provide one abdominal squeeze for every two breaths and 30 chest compressions that you perform.
Periodically Assess Your Dog
Check your companion’s condition every minute or two to check whether or not the dog is responding. Continue artificial respiration or full CPR until your dog is breathing independently and a steady pulse has resumed. If your dog has not regained its ability to breathe on its own after a span of 20 minutes, you should consider ceasing treatment. It is always difficult to assess whether or not a dog’s time has truly come. Calling for help will net you an outside perspective with medical experience to weigh in on the situation.
Some areas have options for pet ambulances that can increase your dog’s chances of recovery and survival in the case of an emergency. In areas without ambulances, have someone call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian to get feedback. Should you continue performing CPR on the spot or try to transfer your dog into a vehicle while you continue the procedure? Perhaps an emergency veterinarian can get to you, instead.
Have a Plan
Plans are an important part of emergency preparedness. When you know the steps of what must happen to help your dog survive, its chances go up if it should stop breathing and its heart stops beating. You can practice finding your dog’s pulse and counting out rhythms. Never practice actual compressions on a healthy dog, however. Keep the number of your veterinarian and local emergency veterinary clinics on your phone, just in case you need a rapid consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Dog CPR?
Dog CPR is the process of performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a dog. It involves compressions to keep the blood circulating through your dog. It may or may not include artificial respiration.
How to perform CPR on a dog?
First examine your dog for the A-B-Cs before assessing how to do CPR on a dog, which are the airway, the breathing, and the cardiac. This means you make sure your dog’s airway is clear, see if it is breathing, and check for a pulse. Then, for most medium dogs and those larger, lay the dog on its side on a surface that is hard and flat. Place your mouth over the nose. Make sure its lips are sealed, gently breathe, watching to see the chest rise. Placing your hands as instructed for the size of your dog, offer quick compressions with periodic breaths. Repeat, checking your dog’s condition every one or two minutes.